Some popular objections to the full inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. *
1. It has been objected, that if the inspiration of the Scriptures be plenary and verbal, it will then follow, that the improper and wicked sayings of bad
men, and even devils, which are introduced in Scripture, must lay claim to an immediate inspiration. The answer to this very flimsy difficulty is simply this; that though, in such cases, the Holy Spirit dictated to inspired men the very words which were uttered by the sinful agents referred to, he dictated them not as his, but theirs.
2. It has been objected, that as the inspired writers were thoroughly acquainted with many things of which they wrote, they could not in such matters require any immediate afflatus from the Holy Spirit, and that therefore such a redundant influence would not have been vouchsafed by that infinitely wise Being who never lavishes his supernatural bestowments.—To this I reply, that the authority of a messenger must cease when he acts merely in his own name, and gives forth that only knowledge, which comes within the range of his own personal knowledge, without reference to the express dictation of the power by which he is delegated. On this principle, a writer of Scripture recording that which was simply the result of his own knowledge, is a contradiction in terms; inasmuch as he must cease to be the medium of an infallible record the moment that he is thrown, in a single instance, on his own unaided resources: that is not Holy Scripture which is not given by inspiration of God.
3. To the full view of inspiration here contended for, it has been objected that some things are
introduced by the inspired writers of too trifling a nature to be the subject of a direct communication from God. As, for instance, when Paul says to his son Timothy, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine other infirmities;" or as elsewhere, when the same apostle says, "the cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments." It is assumed, by objectors to the full inspiration of such texts, that they are below the standard of a divine communication, and that therefore they were the simple unaided dictates of the apostle's own mind. Could we see no design couched in them worthy of God, this would be a most irreverent way of dealing with any part of a book which gives no countenance to the idea of one part being more inspired than another. "The question is not at all," says Mr. Carew, "whether the apostle Paul needed inspiration to enable him to give such directions, but whether it was without inspiration that these doctrines form a part of a book, all of which comes to us as the word of God, and inspired by him. There are many parts of Scripture that might have been written without inspiration; but the question is, were the sacred writers left without inspiration to select what they would put into this book, and what they would keep out of it? If so, then the book is theirs, not God's. Besides, if it be thought absurd to suppose that there
is any inspiration in the direction which the apostle gave about his cloke and his books, it may very naturally be thought that as little inspiration as necessary to tell us how often he had received forty stripes save one; that he had fought with wild beasts at Ephesus; that he had undergone an endless variety of perils; that he had been let down over the wall of Damascus in a basket, and put into the stocks at Phillipi. Of all these, and many similar instances, it may be said, that these are cases in which, as it would be absurd to suppose any inspiration, so it was unnecessary to disavow it. We shall thus get quit of the whole account of the sufferings of the apostles. The apostle says, that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable," &c. If there be many passages, or any passages, in which it would be absurd to suppose any inspiration, or which is not profitable, then he is guilty of stating what is not true."
Besides this general defence of the full inspiration of the passages in question, they admit of a more specific support.
Take the first of them, viz. Pauls's counsel to Timothy respecting the use of wine. Does not the exhortation in question
stand in the midst of a group of precepts, the most solemn and weighty that can be conceived of? Who, then, can prove to
me, that the apostle was under inspiration in delivering them, if not in delivering it? And was it altogether unworthy of the Holy Spirit to dictate
to Paul such an injunction for the use of Timothy, when the preservation of his health, and his continued labors and usefulness in the church might depend upon it? Besides, does not the very permission to Timothy of a "little wine" inculcate the doctrine of temperance, especially upon all the ministers to Jesus Christ?
As to the second passage, we may fairly assume, with Grotius and Erasmus, the poverty of Paul, but not surely the absence of inspiration. "See," said Grotius, "the poverty of so great an apostle, who considered so small a matter, left at such a distance, to be a loss to him!" "Behold," said Erasmus, "the apostle's household furniture, a cloke to defend him from the rain, and a few books!" With regard to the "books or parchments," unless we knew what they were, it would be the height of presumption to affirm that the request which relates to them was uninspired.
4. I shall only notice one supposition more, viz. that the writers of Scripture sometimes intimate themselves that they are
not speaking by inspiration of God. Now, before referring to the instances in question, I would here take leave to observe,
that should it even appear, in certain given cases, that inspired men do disavow the immediate dictation of the Holy Spirit,
all that can be fairly gathered from this fact will be, that on all other occasions, not thus limited, they spake under his
In reference to certain delicacies belonging to the marriage compact, the apostle thus expresses himself in his First Epistle to the Corianthians: "I speak this by permission, and not of command." Now, who permitted Paul to lay down the rules referred to? Why, unquestionably, the Spirit of God. What is meant, then, that Paul spake by inspiration, but that there was no express command from the Lord on the subject? As at the 10th verse of the same chapter, "Unto the married," said Paul, "I command, yet not I, but the Lord; let not the wife depart from her husband." The meaning is, that upon this particular Christ had issued his own mandate; nevertheless Paul gave command by the Spirit of Christ. "To the rest," said he, "speak I, not the Lord." That is, the remaining counsels of the apostle were such as the great Master had left no express injunction about, but which were nevertheless intrusted to him by the Spirit. At the 25th verse of the same chapter, the apostle has the following expression:—"Now, concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord; yet I give my judgment as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful." The thought is the same here as in the former instances. Though no express command had been given by Christ on the subject treated of, yet the apostle, as one of his inspired servants, had received that grace which qualified him for a full development of the
divine will in all those things to which the personal ministry of Christ had not been directed.
In the last verse of the chapter the apostle adds "And I think also that I have the mind of Christ;" an expression which some of the most eminent critics have shown not to indicate an uncertain opinion, but full conviction and unhesitating knowledge, as in John, 5:39.
But supposing all the above passages, and some others which might be quoted, to be instances in which the apostle spake without the immediate guidance of inspiration,—a thing which I cannot admit for a moment,—it is clear that he must have acted under inspiration in apprising the church that the Spirit did not influence him in such communications; so that nothing can be derived from the objection against the immediate and full inspiration of other parts of the word of God; but on the contrary, it would rather go to the conclusion, that nothing short of an apostolical denial of such inspiration can justify any man in hesitating about the immediate divine authority of a single portion of the word of God.